Dryland seems to be the sim that just refuses to disappear: despite repeated warnings of its imminent demise, one extension after another has kept it open a little while longer. This time, creator Anita Witt had actually shuttered the sim and had begun to dismantle it when she flooded it with water — intending to document it as such for only a few hours — but liked the result so much that she has opened the doors again for one more week. What we're seeing has been rechristened Dryland B.D., or Dryland before the drought, so we're actually looking back in time to an era earlier than that of the dry seabeds that we have come to know the past couple years — a prequel to Dryland. For those of you with ocean-going vessels, rezzing has been enabled on with one-hour auto-return.
30 July 2014
Now open at Influence Art Gallery, curated by Yvan Slade, is Tearing Down Home by Haveit Neox. The artist's usual signatures are present throughout the work: earthen tones of browns and grays, large and slowly moving textures, and humanoid forms, now rendered, as he notes, in mesh using ZBrush. The work poses the questions: "Why are you tearing down your beautiful home? Why are you tearing down the planet as well?" Despite my own fidelity toward environmental ideals, the installation didn't engross me as much as Haveit's works usually do. (For me, it's more powerful to focus on possible solutions rather than the discouraging state of the overall problem, and the latter is the focus here.) He adds, "In my exhibit, people are tearing down their home — a symbol of losing contact with the planet which shelters life. Territorialism and profit at any price are human priorities. They outweigh the necessary steps in saving the Earth before the harm soon becomes irreversible. The motif of dried leaves shows the remnants of Nature blowing into the crumbling structure. Instead of grasses, molds, insects or other life forms that would have naturally spread throughout ruins, I show the Nature we killed: the dried remains of life."
29 July 2014
This morning, Honour McMillan poked me with an IM saying only "psssssst" accompanied by a teleport offer, which fortunately I accepted, and arrived at the gorgeous sim of L'Arc-en-Ciel. It's a new design from Asa Vordun, previously creator of Caprice and Easy A, about which I wrote here. (You can enjoy Honour's take on the sim, "Gorgeous Scenery on Don’t Be a Dick Day in Second Life," here.) Truth be told, I don't think there are any rainbows in L'Arc-en-Ciel, but that hardly detracts from the region's stunning beauty.
Asa tells me she continues to make subtle changes to the sim here and there, although it's essentially finished, so you might notice a few differences from images shown here, on which you can click to zoom in. "I love to make something that others could enjoy, too," she remarked. It's a region of not only sweeping vistas but also small details, where we can enjoy a great view but also walk along a path to discover something that emerges right in front of us. Indeed, the landscaping is such that as we pan around, moving our camera along the horizon, our eyes are treated to just enough, whether a rocky outcrop, a campsite, a beach house, a two-masted schooner (which is actually off the sim), a lighthouse, a birdwatch nest, or any one of a number of other elements.
I found it most enjoyable to explore L'Arc-en-Ciel by foot, beginning from the pier at the landing point, which provides remarkable panoramas, then heading onto a series of islands connected by wooden footbridges. Having walked the distance, which snaked around in several directions, I had the sensation of having explored far more than the breadth of one sim. The region's windlight setting is Annan Adored's Mysterious Sunset II, shown below, but I also enjoyed Annan's Morning Dream setting, seen in the first and third images here. Contributions to L'Arc-en-Ciel may be made along the pier as you walk toward land.
27 July 2014
Opening today, Sunday, July 27 at 2 pm slt, at LEA1, is Control+Shift+R by Wizard Gynoid. On the sim stands an enormous structure, towering 275 meters into the sky, that consists of more than 14,000 differently colored struts that converge, twelve to a vertex, to form triangular planes and a three-dimensional isotropic grid. "I believe that this grid is the web of space, of the universe. It's a crystalline lattice," Wizzy explained to me. "The geometric object at the exact center of the cubic structure [visible in the lowest image — ZQ] is generating energy pushed through to us from higher dimensions. That object has perfect symmetry. It incorporates both Buckminster Fuller's Vector Equilibrium AND the mystical Merkabah."
And the name Control+Shift+R? That refers back to the wireframe on which Second Life itself is constructed: if you try that key combination (or, on a Mac, Command+Shift+R) you'll see the wireframe, removing the textures we normally view. "To me," said Wizzy, speaking about Control+Shift+R, "this grid made up of equilateral triangles is evoked by the fact that we here in Second Life are all constructed of triangles." As you move or cam about the space, you'll notice immediately that coherence seems to appear and disappear: for a moment we might see a clear path, or a series of parallel lines, only to transform into a more complex fabric. "I attempt to expose the beauty of complex mathematical objects, or I try to share my appreciation of their beauty," adds Wizzy, pictured above.
It's possible to fly through the structure, probably with a few bumps and thumps unless you're quite skilled at zooming through narrow spaces. But you can also take the easy way out with a vertical tour: On the ground at about 128,128 (right in the center of the build) you'll see a blue replica of Wizzy's avatar. Nearby should be (unless it's en route already) a small cube on which you can set for an elevator ride to the top of Control+Shift+R. (Sometimes it might be stuck at the top, in which case fly up to ride it down.) Four more elevators are also down on the ground — I'll let you discover their locations. The build will remain on display from now through the month of August.
Opening tomorrow, Monday, July 28 at 3 pm slt, at a Sociedad de los Poetas Dementes, is an exhibition of recent works by photographer Melusina Parkin entitled Closer Looks. I've written often about Melusina's work on this blog, and continue to admire her artistry — her ability to strip away elements, reducing a scene to its most basic elements, thereby bringing out lines, shapes and colors we might not have otherwise noticed. Of this exhibition, she says, "Watching things from close up is an amazing practice. Isolating an element or a detail in a scene, focusing on it, is like when you repeat a word in your mind until it loses its meaning: it starts then revealing unexpected associations, suggesting unusual relationships, showing unforeseen details in it. When photographed, the most trivial object, thanks to framing, light, shadows and color handling can acquire a completely different meaning than its own actual or usual one." Each of the forty-four images is for sale. While you're visiting, don't miss the opportunity to see works in the neighboring gallery by Spyder Silverfall, Tsubasa and others.
26 July 2014
Opening today, Saturday, 26 July at 4:00 pm slt at the Kelly Yap Art Gallery is a new installation by Betty Ai Tureaud entitled Fram. In a large space — in which Betty's usually bright colors permeate — we observe five square shapes drift on the same axis but at different speeds, occasionally and apparently randomly reversing directions. Once in a while, they gather together on the same plane, forming a nest of squares inside one another, but more often two or three will align as the others slide through. There's an interesting illusion that occurs as we watch them from the further ends of the gallery: since they're all the same shape, and since we have not much of a spatial frame of reference in the gallery, the largest squares, when recessed, appear momentarily to be about the same size as the smallest. As they converge, sometimes what appeared to be a smaller or larger one turns out to be the opposite. Contributions to the Kelly Yap Art Gallery may be made at the landing point.
24 July 2014
Solo Mornington, one of the members of the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) Committee, has announced that the LEA will hold its first-ever office hours tomorrow, Friday, July 25, from 10:30 to 11:30 am at LEA3, the official Welcome Area. "Come with your questions about LEA and let's have a conversation," he suggests. (Image below from Wizard Gynoid's 3D Wireframe Grid at LEA1.)
20 July 2014
Today, the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) announced the recipients of Round 7 of its Artist in Residence (AiR) grants, which will provide twenty full sims to artists for a period of five months, from August through December: Ais Aeon, BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl, Betty Tureaud, Ellie Brewster, FirleFanz Roxley, Frankx Lefavre, Giovanna Cerise, KatanaBlender Resident, Kimika Ying, Lor Pevensey, Mac Kanashimi, Mandel Solano, MarioZecca Resident, Neeks Karu, Octagons Yazimoto, Peli Dieterle, Pixels Sideways, Sarby, Sowa Mai and Uan Ceriaptrix.
Awardees have considerable time to prepare their respective sims for display, although one — Mac Kanashimi — actually managed to have his Round 6 sim open to the public on the very first day of the grant period. This also serves as a reminder that the Round 6 exhibitions will close at the end of the July, and a list of those can be found here, with the exception of Invasion by Sniper Siemens, who replaced her build with the recently opened Second Life History.
16 July 2014
Now open at LEA23 and running for two weeks, until July 30, is Second Life History by Sniper Siemens, a delightful visual trek that begins in 2001 with images from LindenWorld and ends in a staircase that ascends toward SL 2.0 in 2015. Using images, written text and objects, we witness through this history year by year, moving along a path that winds through the sim.
I won't spoil the fun by going into too many details, but you'll see things such as the December 2003 introduction of the Linden Dollar, new prim shapes in 2004, the banking shutdown in 2007, the establishment of the adult-oriented Zindra continent in 2009, and the advent of Project Shining and pathfinding in 2012.
It's engaging and lively, and even if you're a new resident or haven't been around for more than a couple years, it's a treat to explore. (Sniper has created a milestone marking the creation of her first avatar, Sniper Archer, in 2005 — I'm sure you'll easily find your own entry point.)
15 July 2014
Last fall, the beautiful and macabre sim Deadpool opened its doors — a carnival at which everything had gone wrong — the design of Megan Prumier and Kunt WyxBattitude (a.k.a. xJETx Chrome), about which I blogged here. It eventually closed its doors. But now, says Kunt, so many residents have appealed for a rebuild of the sim that their wishes have been granted: Deadpool Version 2.0. If you visited the first incarnation of Deadpool, the new build will look immediately familiar, with its same circus environment crowned by a tilting Ferris wheels and a dangerously dilapidated roller coaster, the sign for which flickers in the dark night.
And what has been going on here? "In 1972, a traveling circus arrived to the town of Deadpool, welcoming boys and girls of all ages," explain the designers. "But tragedy soon struck when small children and even newborns went missing. The townspeople quickly turned their gaze on the circus clowns, forgetting the nearby asylum. Their macabre acts now discovered, their deaths a tragedy, as zombies arose there was no escape — no longer were they thought of as happy clowns entertaining kids with funny faces and goofy antics, but the very stuff of nightmares. They'd been using the dead kids' corpses and incorporating them into sick and twisted marionettes for their acts, shipping them thru the horrible asylum, and trying to escape through the underwater tunnels of death. Will you make it out through the maze? It's been said that to this day, you can still hear the victims screams emanating from the abandoned carnival grounds."
And you might indeed meet a zombie or two, although the sim isn't damage-enabled, so you're safe to wander about. (You can join the group to rez poses or items, and to shoot zombies.) Aside from the immediate amusement park areas, which are highly visible and include creepy looking rides and games, there are a few other destinations to discover. One is the asylum, reached by a climb up some steep steps, (image below), a place of untold and no doubt horrifying stories. Another is an underground boat ride — you know, one of those tunnel of love style rides on a swan — that might well have you gripping your lover out of fright (lowest image, skeletal hands reaching from a wall).
Deadpool is dense and dark, so it's easy to miss all the opportunities. Many of the small games are interactive — at a zombie shooting booth, for example, click to get a gun — and the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round offer rides. Walking along the path of the broken roller coaster provides an interesting experience in balance and navigation! If you'd like to make a contribution to support Deadpool, there are tip jars located here and there throughout the sim.
14 July 2014
Need to get to the beach but don't have the gas money? If the Jersey Shore is what you have in mind, head over to The Boardwalk, created by Isa Messioptra, Cipher Wandin and Cate Footman at Downstairs, owned by Cate Footman and Mollie MacBeth. It's a delightful sunny stroll above the crashing surf, with a Ferris wheel, a fortune teller, a kissing booth, an arcade, Skee-ball, Zoltar the fortune teller (a mechanized one this time), dart games, face painting, ice cream and other refreshments. Even though it's an adult sim, the whole set-up is very PG. I mentioned to Isa that it reminded me of Cape May, and she agreed, but suggested it might be more "in the mold of Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights and Wildwood."
You can't directly teleport to The Boardwalk — it's really part of Downstairs, which is, paradoxically, located overhead, and that's where the "adult" theme comes more into focus. Originally created as an offshoot from The Chamber, but no longer affiliated, it's a casual place for sexual encounters and roleplay (photo below). When you arrive, head downstairs and then outside, and when you spot the driver's side door on the truck (it's that sort of place), that's your teleport. And you'll need to join the Downstairs group (L$150 — I'm sure it keeps out the riffraff) to reach The Boardwalk, but that's a small cost to pay for supporting a delightful location. Cate tells me she hopes to keep The Boardwalk around for a long time.
13 July 2014
Now open at MetaLES is El Laberinto Perdido, a full sim installation by Romy Nayar, with sounds and scripts by Ux Hax. It's an arresting view right at the outset: in a dark, mysterious world, what appears to be a castle rises up on a massive rock that climbs out of the black waters. (I should say here that you have to have your draw distance up to at least about 200 meters to really see the structure, and the region windlight settings are a must. Photographs don't easily convey the view — click on these to enlarge.) Even as we approach its entrance, we notice a few things, including what appears to be a dead body, floating in the moat-like waters, and then a notice greets us: "If you decide to delve into the Lost Labyrinth, your deepest fears and defects will take your control. You will live them again and again and again and...again...No one has gotten out..."
As you enter the structure after clicking on the door, which rises to greet you, the first of many rooms or spaces appears. The way through them, as you'll quickly discover, is by finding the hidden doorways that lead you to others areas. It's not quite linear, and you may need to backtrack — after falling at one point I found myself in an area from which there wasn't any apparent exit, although there was something there to see. It's certainly a world filled with dream-like, nightmarish imagery. Romy typically doesn't color our experiences with artistic statements, but when I mentioned to her my perceptions, she replied, "That's it!! Your nightmares and your dark fears."
It's easy to lose one's orientation and to be uncertain one has seen everything. Be sure to have local sounds turned up as you roam, because many of the elements you'll encounter either generate sounds on their own or as you interact with them. And there is one interactive piece that will give you something: as you wander and explore, keep an eye out for a sculpture with four masks, although I won't reveal the outcome. El Laberinto Perdido will remain on display until the end of August.
12 July 2014
High above the narrow shorelines of Melee Island, and reachable only by a steep path that winds its way upward along a sheer rock cliff, stands the picturesque town of Garlic Breath, created by Pamela22 Igaly and 83457point1. Each of its whitewashed cubical houses, evocative of the architecture of Santorini or other Greek islands, enjoys a tremendous vista, looking out across the waters to high mountains that surround the entire sim. Here are there throughout the town are places to sit after your long climb. "I like garlic, and it made me think of garlic and olive oil," Pamela good-naturedly says regarding the name, "but I also wanted a name that sounded a bit funny, since we're goofs."
And there's more to see after your visit to Garlic Breath proper: relax on a sailbed on the waters (watch out for Steve the shark, though!), or head westward across the bay to discover a vinyard and a cozy area surrounding a small pond, over which a windmill lazily turns. (Portions of the island outside the town are still under construction, so your experiences might differ a little.) There's also a broader stretch of beach, too, and, to the south, a lighthouse perched on a rocky outcrop.
While you're enjoying the scenic beauty that Melee Island has to offer, be sure to visit the sim's two resident shops, which operate in partnership: Bokeh, owned by Pamela and managed by 83457point1, and even.flow, owned yingythingy Resident with designs by Pamela. If you'd like to make a contribution to help support Garlic Breath and Melee Island, you can do so at the town's landing point.
11 July 2014
Opening tomorrow, Saturday, July 12 at 10 am slt, is a new sim designed by Mz Marville, Matoluta Sanctuary, a place where you're probably more likely to encounter equine rather than human avatars. The entrance to the build, seen above, greets visitors with a striking, water-filled canyon, but lush fields of grasses and wildflowers await on the opposite end, with waterfalls feeding the stream in the distance. The region's pre-set windlight settings, shown in the third image, somehow evoke an unblemished, long-vanished American landscape of hundreds of years ago. It's a delightful environment for exploration and photography — and, no doubt, for being a horse.
"The goal of Matoluta Sanctuary," explains the Sanctuary team, "is to raise awareness for the Spanish colonial horse. Originally bred by the Spanish approximately 400 years ago, these horses are now facing extinction. They no longer live in Spain, as they were bred by the conquistadors. Later, they became the original horses of the Native Americans. In the 1700s they were the most popular horse on the continent. The sanctuary hopes to educate visitors about the importance of conserving the homeland of these beautiful horses in present day Oklahoma." If you're curious about roleplaying as a Spanish colonial horse, I'd suggest tracking down Manatou, a friendly stallion who is one of the sim owners and also the Herd Leader — and this is a herd of about 300. (And I had no idea how complex animal roleplay could be until talking for a while with Manatou, who patiently attempted to explain protocol.)
Initially, access to Matoluta Sanctuary will be free, but, within a week or so of its opening, it will become group access only, with a L$250 fee to join (or L$500 if you would like to have rez rights). (The Sanctuary will make exemptions on a case-by-case basis for those new to Second Life with equestrian knowledge, and for established photographers and bloggers.) But Saturdays, at least for the start, will be open access for everyone. The sim will operate from 10 am to 8 pm daily. To stay abreast of upcoming events, visit the sim's website, where you can also learn about a kick-off photography contest to celebrate the opening. If you enjoy your visit, do consider making a contribution to help support Matoluta Sanctuary.
10 July 2014
Yesterday, Polygon published a extended feature on artist AM Radio, written by Wagner James Au: AM Radio: the Banksy of Second Life. It's an enlightening read, providing not only an overview of AM's work, but also his reflections — or more properly put, his personal, real life reflections as Jeff Berg — on his career in the virtual art world. It's been in development for several months, and it's nice to finally see it in print.
I was delighted to receive a visit to The Far Away (AM's only remaining build) yesterday evening by Ebbe Linden, who stopped by after reading the article, and I caught up with him after he teleported to my gallery, which is overhead. Joined eventually by Jessica Belmer and a few other friends, we had a lively talk about AM, the next generation virtual world and other stuff, and Ebbe even chipped in with a contribution to support The Far Away (thanks!).
09 July 2014
Opening today, Wednesday, July 9, at 2 pm slt, is an exhibition of photography by Walt Ireton (Jay Evers in real life) entitled City Windows: Real Life Photos from a Virtual Reality, hosted at Plusia Ars Island. I don't generally cover exhibitions of real life images in Second Life, but this is different: first, the exhibition space, constructed by Walt, is exquisite; and second, the images, taken over the last several months in Enschede and Amsterdam, were taken in shop windows, and often the subjects — or at least the focal points — are mannequins, which are in a way anonymous avatars. Indeed, when I arrived and glanced at the first image, Oranje Deeme, it took me a split second to realize it wasn't a virtual avatar but a figure in a store window, and many of the photos suggest a similar duality. The images are being given their premiere showing in Second Life, and Walt notes that images will be added and deleted as he continues to enlarge the series.